GDC: Sony shows NGP augmented reality

Sony demonstrated the augmented reality capabilities of its upcoming new handheld hardware, the next generation portable, at GDC 2011.

Sony showed off an impressive augmented reality demo running on its Next Generation Portable (NGP) at GDC 2011. David Coombs, platform research manager for the NGP, introduced the augmented reality demo by discussing what he called "natural marker technology." This capability allows the NGP to use ordinary items as the anchors for creating the in-screen virtual world. Tsutomu Horikawa, director of SCEI Software Solution Developement Dept, then took over to show a live demo.

An ape virtually escapes

Horikawa started by aiming the NGP camera at a PS3 game box for Ape Escape. When he did, the game's iconic mascot--an ape wearing a safety helmet with a flashing light attached--popped up out of the box in the augmented view. A clever demo, but aside from not needing a special card, it looked fairly similar to what its competitor, the 3DS, has also shown it can do. Then Horikawa showed the 1994 "Dinosaur Demo" video that Sony used to showoff the capabilities of the original PlayStation. He then stood, stepped down from the stage into the crowd, and aimed the NGP cameras at a large image of dinosaur that had been laid down in one of the aisle. In his screen, an enormous T-Rex then stood there, towering over the crowd. He was able to move the NGP around and use it like a looking glass to check out the giant dinosaur, with the system's gyroscopes and accelerometers calculating what he was trying to look at.

T-Rex virtually towers over GDC attendees

During the rest of the panel, Coombs for the most part reviewed the NGP technical details as revealed last month in Tokyo. No specifics were given as to the way models will be configured outside Japan, though he did state that only the 3G models will include GPS functionality. Wi-Fi only models will rely on "Skyhook" positioning services, which Coombs noted as often being more accurate in enclosed spaces like shopping malls where one would find wi-fi. Coombs also briefly addressed how developers should approach making games for the system. He cautioned that despite speculation, it will not be as powerful as the PS3 or running at 2Ghz. Battery life and the inability to use large enough heat sinks in the small frame limit the performance. It does, though, have "a lot of memory compared to a PS3." He also suggested, as expected, that assets should be able to be easily brought over from PS3 and 360 versions of games with some simplification of models, shaders, and textures.
From The Chatty
  • reply
    March 2, 2011 5:00 PM

    Comment on GDC: Sony shows NGP augmented reality, by Garnett Lee.

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      March 2, 2011 5:07 PM

      Summary: Sony demonstrated the augmented reality capabilities of its upcoming new handheld hardware, the next generation portable, at GDC 2011.

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        March 2, 2011 5:33 PM

        somebody needs to expense a digital camera that isn't a part of a cell phone ;)

        thanks for the info

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      March 2, 2011 8:24 PM

      Now if only I can augment pornstars into my bedroom and then take pictures, surely this would justify getting this device.

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      March 2, 2011 10:36 PM

      Really think Sony is missing the boat without a 3D screen, like Nintendo.

      Touch screen is old and busted. 3D is the new hotness. Have yet to see any good concepts for camera games, so I'm not sure why they are loading a camera onto NGP. On 3DS it makes sense because its a 3D camera... but on the NGP? Anyway, my point is, NGP may be powerful, but it feels like it has a bunch of features that noone has been clamouring for... and noone is particularly clamouring for even now.

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        March 2, 2011 11:22 PM

        It wants to have every feature an Android phone could have to help ensure the NGP is the premier place for Android games. Having a camera is part of that. As is having a touch screen.

        I agree that not having 3D is going to hurt them when in a year or two every smartphone has 3D, quad-core CPU's and quad-GPU's, but then again, I think the 3D on the 3DS is going to look so awful by comparison to those devices, I think an iPad with retina's going to kick the crap out of both devices next year.

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          March 2, 2011 11:31 PM

          And yet still lack traditional controls and so be useless for many genres.

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        March 6, 2011 12:41 PM

        The NGP is simply aimed at pleasing nerds who need to more intimately touch their virtual female counter parts. I mean, a touch screen on the system's butt? Butt touching is the next revolution in portable gaming.

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      March 3, 2011 6:05 AM

      Meh, we all knew it was comming to augmented reality for a while now.

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